Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central

I was forwarded a recent thread from Reef Central where by moderators & forum members went on another of their misinformation binges.


RELATED ARTICLE:
Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Vecton, Advantage


From:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2449440

In this binge, a Reef Central member made one of the more laughable misinformation statements I have ever read online.

QUOTE: “While AquaUV is not the cheapest UV on the market, like the link you provided say, they are quality units with great dwell time. What they fail to mention is their great support. Same can be said about Emperor Aquatics. Something that is non existent with Tropical Marine Centre who is over seas and depends exclusively on retailers for support.”

Sorry dude, TMC support is superior just because it is retailer based.
Let me ask readers what would rather have as a return policy using a laptop computer as an example:
You have a choice between two laptops of similar value, with one it can be brought back to the store for an exchange or parts replacement, or the other you have to send away to the manufacturer and wait several weeks to get your laptop back?
I think most would take the first quicker option; sorry dude.

Do not believe me, here’s a link to their warrant returns page:
http://www.aquaultraviolet.com/sites/default/files/instructions/Instructions%20Classic%20and%20Twist%20Series%20UV%2005-19-09.pdf

Let me address a few more comments from this terrible thread of misinformation.

  • This same character, makes more misinformation statements.
    “That said, the units mentioned in your links are cheap units meant to appeal the masses. Not necessarily quality units and they don’t have the same kind of dwell time as the higher end units from AquaUV or Emperor.”

    While admittedly the Aqua Ultraviolet and Emperor are excellent (I have used these too), the TMC is NOT a cheap unit meant to appeal to the masses, a quick peak on eBay or Amazon will find plenty of these cheap units often for under $50 such as the AquaTop, Killing Machine, and many others. These are cheap.
    The facts are the dwell time is the highest of any UV with the TMC Vecton, in fact higher than some of Emperors Smart UVs which use very short lamps and short exposure times.

    Has this guy even done a dwell time test?
    Has he even done his homework, such as reading the article he so conveniently bashes out of hand with ad hominem attacks on the author by him and others?

  • Here is another of this guys statements:
    “Here is the Tropical Marine Centre UV unit that I used to run on my tank. At the time, it was one of the only higher wattage units out there that used a crystal sleeve. These units are now relegated to Tropical Marine Centre’s commercial product line and not readily available in the states. The AquaUV’s equivalent (Classic Series) is better made, easier to service and backed by much better support. The comparable AquaUV is also much cheaper.”

    Incorrect again!!
    Does this guy do ANY HOMEWORK AT ALL? If so he gets an F.

    The TMC 110 UV is readily available in the USA for under $400 in some locations or websites.
    Since my commitment to readers of my website blog post is to not commercialize my results by posting links to resellers, I will simply state these are not difficult to find online.

    Reef Central, What should I do UV, Large TMC Sterilizer

    As for support, I have already addressed this falsehood, but will add that I have NEVER had an issue with parts or returns for ANY TMC product from lights, FSB filters, or their UV Sterilizers. This includes one rare instance of a hairline crack in the body for which I was given a brand new UV sterilizer, NO SHIPPING BACK FOR REPAIRS!!

  • This one is from a Reef Central Moderator:
    But does sell them, and is trying awfully hard to the make them out to the be best thing since sliced bread. While they can indeed be useful in some circumstances, they are not the wonder equipment with all the attributes he gives them.”

    This comment is not so bad IMO, since he is simply stating an opinion as an opinion.
    However I have read this article quoted and do not get the same thing at all out of the article or other articles published by the author.
    He clearly recommends “True” UV Sterilizers as he calls them as a useful tool, which includes other tools such as quarantine.
    As well we have another case of someone who appears to not research outside of Reef Central or even read an article in question or its cited references, otherwise he would never make such statements of “opinion”.

  • “Even so, the UV will have some impact on pods as well despite the high flow rates.”

    What are the “pods” doing in the water column?
    Has he heard of pre-filtration which is an essential ingredient for correct UV Sterilizer application?

    Sorry one again; WRONG!!

  • “Keep in mind, that article is written by a guy selling UV units.”

    A typical liberal ad hominem argument whereby you attack the person rather than the facts or cited resources.

    This has no bearing on the credibility of the article assuming the facts and references are sound.

    Using his own terminology: Keep in mind, that there is always a money trail anywhere, some are just less obvious or down right sneaky.
    Does this guy work for free, does he not expect the author to sell what he found to be a superior product?

    Back to following the money, Reef Central is supported by sponsorships; have you ever noticed that a member will get the “ban hammer” for speaking negatively against EcoTech, one of Reef Central’s major supporters?

I would say in the end, use common sense logic, actually do your homework, not give lip service like these members of Reef Central do.
Also do not depend upon Google for good search results when doing your research, since they too are beholden to deliver readers to their pals such as Amazon or others. Consider DuckDuckGo who does not spy on you and use your information to track your habits!

Further Reading/References:

#UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium

Are UV Sterilizers Good for an Aquarium?

Are UV Sterilizers Good for Aquariums Question; Are UV Sterilizers Good for Aquariums?
As a generalization, this is a question that really should not be asked anymore based on research of the benefits of Level 1 Sterilization that includes disease prevention & control, fish immunity based on redox balance, and water clarification.

However while there are few reasons not to have a UV Sterilizer on your aquarium, most of the reasons NOT to have one of these devices is based on myths that simply will not go away despite verified controlled use of these devices.
The other reason to NOT have a UV Sterilizer is the plethora of low cost quality UV Sterilizers made by companies such as AquaTop, Jebo, Green Killing Machine, and others that simply do NOT provide level 1 sterilization; ONLY clarification.

What I will then look at based on my aquarium service business observations, as well as feedback from others I know in the business as to what are the positives and the negatives. With the negatives I will also look at negatives that are caused by UV Sterilizers of poor dwell time design, poor over all construction, poor quality, and simply poor installation.

UV STERILIZER POSITIVES (based on science and professional use, not here say)

  • At flow rates of 20-25 gph, depending upon dwell time inside UV Sterilizer, a UV Sterilizer will kill or render helpless most pathogenic bacteria
  • A UV Sterilizer will NOT kill beneficial bacteria since these aerobic bacteria reside in the substrate and filter media in a healthy established aquarium
  • A UV Sterilizer will NOT kill copepods in a marine reef aquarium.
    Simple use proves this, as well, the science behind how a UV Sterilizer shows that when correctly plumbed, the UV Sterilizer would not be powerful enough nor would a copepod even get into the UV Sterilizer chamber based on how and where they live and correct pre-filtration prior to water entering the UV.
  • A UV Sterilizer WILL improve Redox Balance resulting improved fish immune response
  • A UV Sterilizer can help slow or occasionally even stop Oodinium, Ich or other single cell aquarium parasite infestation.
    Level 1 Sterilization will slow many of these parasites, if only by improving fish immune response. Level 2 can even kill some single parasites, although not always completely.
    However I should caution a prospective buyer that even the best UV should not be purchased with the belief this will put an end to future Ich, Velvet, Oodinium or related infestations. Purchase a UV as a tool to aid in control and prevention (keyword: TOOL)
  • A UV Sterilizer will clarify an aquarium with cloudy or green water

UV STERILIZER NEGATIVES

  • A UV Sterilizer is NOT a cure all to poor water chemistry as per Redox, over crowding often resulting in poor water clarity, poor disease prevention, and other poor aquarium maintenance management
  • If not correctly installed AFTER filter inline or in a sump loop, too high a flow rate, poor dwell time, poor UV Sterilization chamber design; you often will have useless piece of aquarium equipment.
    This unfortunately happens way too often.
    I have made countless “house calls” where a customer incorrectly installed the UV Sterilizer or purchased one of the countless junk UVs such as the Jebo or AquaTop and then would tell me the UV did not improve my fish’ health. This resulted in this customer stating ALL UVs are useless, when in fact they made this anecdotal opinion based on incorrect installation or use of poorly designed UVs that are NOT capable of Level 1 Sterilization.
  • A UV should not be used while planktonic foods are added to the water column. This is common in many reef aquariums.
    However the UV Sterilizer can still be used and should be placed on a timer so that it is run two hours after the introduction of these foods.
  • Many UV Sterilizer have ballasts that do not last (such as the Coralife), or gimmicks such as baffles, twists, wipers, that do little or even lower UV irradiation efficiency.
    Do not waste your money on these UVs, otherwise you may end up with a poor opinion of what a good UV can do for your aquarium.

What is also important to know is lamp/bulb maintenance.
To purchase a UV Sterilizer, including a better model such as the TMC and then to rarely if ever change the lamp will slowly result in a device that does nothing for your aquarium.
With 24/7 use, these lamps will already be at 50% in just 6 months, which is when they should be changed. After a year of continuous use the lamp is mostly useless.

The other issue in our competitive marketplace, is that many if not the majority of online and sellers, especially Amazon and Ebay, sell medium pressure and cold cathode UV lamps so as to make a better profit all the while keep the selling price lower than the wholesale cost of the better high output replacement lamps/bulbs.
To make the mistake of purchasing one of these lamps like so many do based on my home and office visits where the aquarium service client is complaining that their UV no longer works as well or that the fish are getting sick more often, is to purchase a UV lamp with 1/4 to 1/3 the useful UVC output! In my opinion this is self defeating!!!

For more on this subject, I STRONGLY suggest reading this article:
Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

Before just taking my word and observations, I suggest reading these resources on this subject:

*Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use
*Redox in Aquariums
*UV Sterilizer Review
UV Bulbs; Problems of Quality?

Here are a few UV Sterilizer that I know from practical use work well and reliably.

*AAP/TMC Vecton, Advantage
*Aqua Ultraviolet
*Emperor Aquatics UV
*Gamma UV

Of the four above, I have had the highest longevity, least gimmicky features, and the highest dwell time with the AAP/TMC Advantage & Vecton UV Sterilizers.

Here are a few Economy UV Sterilizer that I know from practical use work reasonably well; at least level 1 sterilization and reasonable reliability:

*Via Aqua Terminator [discontinued]
*SunSun (Perfect) CUP Series (not the JUP series which do not provide level 1 sterilization)

UV Sterilizers to Avoid; either due to poor level 1 sterilization and/or poor reliability

*AquaTop
*Jebo
*Coralife Turbo Twist
*Green Killing Machine

Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Vecton, Advantage

Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Aqua & TMC Vecton & Advantage

(Further Information Added to this post, 12/6/14)

I’ve used many different ultraviolet Sterilizers over the years; some great, some ok, some were only clarifiers (although often sold as sterilizers), and some simply junk.

One model I used many of is the Coralife Turbo Twist compact UV Sterilizer. These worked for both clarification and more important TRUE UV sterilization reasonably well, although far from the best though when compared to other UV Sterilizers.
However, later I had would find the ballasts to fail and nearly a 100% rate with newer models. So although a popular UV Sterilizer, I cannot recommend it.
For a Compact UV, I’ve had better results from the SunSun & Via Aqua Terminator Compact UVs both in measured results and quality of build.

Also read my newer article where I call out some severe misinformation put forth by Reef Central:
Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central

NOW FOR MY REVIEW:

TMC VECTON & ADVANTAGE UVs:

TMC Vecton UV Sterilizer Line
This brings me to the TMC Line of UV Sterilizers; including the Pond Advantage and Vecton Aquarium.
Further Reading: TMC Premium Vecton and Advantage Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizer, Clarifiers; Information

I’ve not had ANY better results with other UV Sterilizer as per TRUE UV Sterilization (level 1 & 2) as well as more basic clarification.
Also parts are readily available at fair prices unlike so many other UV Sterilizer where the ballast, quartz sleeve, or UV Replacement Bulb, Lamp can cost half or more of what a new TMC UV Sterilizer will cost.

UV Bulb Reference Guide Link: UV Bulbs, Bulb Guide

 

Vecton Ultraviolet Sterilizer mounted under aquariumAnother positive of the TMC Vecton and Advantage UVs is the construction of the unit as the Vecton and Advantage PRO Pond UVs are among the most solid UVs I have ever used. The construction also lends itself to easy repair when or if this becomes necessary.
Although the way the electrical ends connect to the lamp pins, does lend itself to easy disconnect, but this is a minor issue that only happens with rough handling and is easily corrected by simply pushing the connector back into the lamp pins.

I have had almost NO leaky UVs, especially in the area of the simple but well designed hose barb O-Rings, unlike many other units.
As well parts such as ballasts, quartz sleeves, O-Rings, and much more are readily available online or elsewhere at reasonable prices as I already noted; again unlike many even otherwise quality units where the cost of a ballast or quartz sleeve is nearly as much as a new UV Sterilizer!

Again, I am not knocking the effectiveness of many other UVs such as the Aqua Ultraviolet or Emperor UV, but when price of the Sterilizer unit and parts are factored in, the TMC has been a no-brainer for me when a customer asks me to install the best UV possible and still stay within an agreed upon budget.

Pond Advantage UV Sterilizer, Clarifier Review There are other OK to good UVs such as the SunSun Terminator, Tetra and a few others, but these do NOT match the dwell time of the TMC Vecton or Advantage.
In fact I have changed out Tetra 18 Watt UVs running customer ponds that struggled to keep the pond clear and replaced this UV with a LOWER wattage TMC 15 Watt Pond Advantage and observed immediate results that we better the the Tetra UV.

The reason for the improvement in pond clarity was simple, the TMC Advantage and Vecton have the highest UVC dwell times of any UV Sterilizer, BAR NONE. Although some such as the Aqua Ultraviolet can equal the TMC Vecton and Advantage for dwell time.

Let me list the positives & negatives of the TMC Vecton and Pond Advantage True UV Sterilizers:

  • Positive; The highest UVC Dwell time of ANY UV Sterilizer sold, allowing for much higher flow rates that the vast majority of UVs sold while still maintaining true level 1 or even 2 sterilization
  • Positive; Readily available parts, at reasonable prices
  • Positive; Uses highest UVC output low pressure mercury UV Bulbs/Lamps, unlike many of the Chinese brand UVs sold.
    Further Reading: Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond
  • Positive; Durable construction with VERY long life ballasts
  • Negative; Lamp pin connections can come loose with rough handling
  • Negative; Can be difficult to tell if on in a brightly lit room or in bright daylight for a pond application. Usually I either shield the light or more simply, remove a few screws and open the top to check for correct lamp function
  • Positive; A true UV Sterilizer in a market that is more and more flooded with UV clarifiers masquerading as UV Sterilizers

The bottom line from my use of dozens (if not 100s) of UVs in aquariums and ponds, I have found no match for effectiveness, durability, and even value/reasonable price when one considers the quality of this top notch aquarium and pond UV Sterilizer.

Of course there are the many poor UVs too such as the over-rated Coralife Turbo Twist.
Worse yet, the Pure junk AquaTop and Jebo line of UVs just to name a few.
Many of these low end internal/submersible and Hang-On UV Filters have a very short life span, sometimes only 6 months from my experience.
As well even when working these UVs are only capable of Clarfication, NOT level one UVC sterilization! In other words these low end, low cost imports are NOT true UV Sterilizers.

Further Reading:
UV Sterilizers to Avoid; Jebo, Submariner, Laguna, Sunterra, Pondmaster Submersible
AquaTop Hang On Filter, UV Review

Please reference this excellent review for more details about the hows and whys of TMCs UV Sterilizers:
TMC Vecton and Advantage UV Sterilizer Review

Aqua 15 Watt UV Sterilizer, Clarifer for Aquarium or Pond
Aqua Ultraviolet

A good but over priced model is the Aqua line of pond and aquarium ultraviolet sterilizers.
These are well constructed, with good dwell time resulting in efficient sterilization and clarification.
One complaint I do have on some models is the wiper; these really do NOT do a good job at clearing calcium buildup, sometimes getting stuck too. As well since proper maintenance is every six months, despite some websites statements to the contrary, I would skip the wiper feature and simply properly clean the Quartz Sleeve ever six months. I would also suggest a back flush your UV monthly in pond applications.

The 2nd complaint I have is simply price for the UV and parts. The parts are often proprietary too forcing me or other users to pay crazy prices for parts that can often be found for much less with other UV Sterilizers that are not proprietary with their parts.

When you compare a 15 Watt Aqua at about $175 to a 15 Watt TMC Advantage or Vecton at $135 to $155 which with their longer UVC Bulbs and higher dwell time at the same flow rate; to me the better choice is the TMC UV Sterilizers.
Worse (in price, not effectiveness) is the Aqua 120 watt pond or aquarium system UV Sterilizer priced at $800+.
While certainly an effective UV, I’ve found the similar 110 Watt TMC PRO Pond Advantage just as effective at half the price ($400-$500).

The final issue I have is the claim by Aqua UV: “longest lamp life on the market”. This is a half truth from my knowledge and use of UVs. To make a longer life UV lamp/bulb results in less output of 254nm UVC irradiation during the life of the UV lamp.
Better is a high output Hot Cathode UV germicidal bulb that should be replaced every 6 months for aquariums or 6-12 months for ponds. You will maximize your effectiveness of your UV Sterilizer.